In-Scope: How important is design in presentations?

As a social designer, I do a lot of design work. At times, I help the business teams in designing deck templates and creating mock-ups. This article will not talk about creative thinking or the out of the box strategy but rather why design shouldn’t be the last thing on the to-do list when responding to a brief – Both the design of the deck itself and the mock-ups that will help aid the presentation.



I remember learning about the basics of presentation at university. They say that the most important thing in your deck is to have as little text as possible and to not simply read off the slides.

But in the real world, sometimes it’s just not possible to cover off everything you need to say without having words on the slide. Using design to your advantage, you can make your slides look more legible and more visually engaging for the viewer to read.



The images above show you two slides that I quickly mocked up. Hopefully most of you believe that the one on the right is visually more appealing. Would it surprise you that both slides had the same amount of words? Many of you reading this might already know how to make a slide visually engaging, but what I’m trying to convey is with simple design theory, a wordy slide could seem less cluttered than it actually is.

This leads me into the next point about why mock-ups should not be addressed at the very last stage of the process.

When responding to a brief, mock-ups are key to show how the strategy is going to look and how we will bring it to life. Sometimes, these visual cues can be left right up to the end of the process. Strategy will always come first before designing the mock-ups, but I believe bringing design earlier in the strategic process gives time to iterate the visuals and help fast track ideation.

The human brain understands and processes images far quicker than text. An MIT study suggests that humans can understand the meaning of an image as quickly as 13 milliseconds, compared to half a second to understand individual words. In addition to this, humans remember images much more vividly than words.


An example of this is when reading a book, the reader will visualise the words and project them into an image, which helps them create the scene rather than keeping them as words.

This shows just how connected humans are to visuals. And to go back to the mock-up scenario, I wonder if using creative techniques in the research and ideation stages may help everyone to see things differently.

The importance of design is a big one. No matter what industry you are in, it comes down to humans interacting with humans. The science and studies are out there – we all like well thought out design. So the next time you respond to briefs, remember that the design and visuals could be the make or break element!



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